Today is apparently the first day of the rest of my life, this is apparently a good thing, but at the moment all I can see is the waste of the life so far.
i first became depressed and took my first overdose when I was 12, this wasn’t a light hearted attention seeking thing, there was no note, no chance of being found, it was a serious attempt, a significant amount of a variety of tablets and a small amount of alcohol to try to make the bit before they kicked in not so horrid. As it happened I was just very sick, my body apparently doesn’t tolerate too many tablets and each time I have tried to give up in this way I have just been very very sick as my body purges the poison. In my first case this was at school and I just got sent home with a ‘tummy bug’ as I threw up solidly for hours. Somewhat bizarrely for an allegedly intelligent person I don’t tend to remember that my body has this reaction to tablets when I take them in this quantity, and have repeated the procedure many times since, but always on my own, somewhere I wouldn’t be found and with the full intention of giving up.
I have been on more different types of antidepressant than is normal for anyone person as they have been trying to medicate me for just over 25 years, with varying degrees of abject failure. This version of gentle niggling sadness as a day to day norm, which spirals down and down, has just been a normal way of life for me for as long as I can remember.
I first started getting the random breathlessness when I was about 18, they assumed asthma and gave me inhalers, but it was never quite like that. The wheezing was always an instant thing and bore no relation to exercise or anything else. It was about the same time I started noticing pins and needles in my feet ( but only in my little toe and the half of the one next to it), and in my arms and hands (noticeably in my elbows and again in the little finger and half of the one next to it and the bit of my hand which corresponds to that). This was also the time that I found my legs did random twitching, only when I was sitting down and used to go into weird spasms, I told the doctor about this and as I later found out from looking at my notes he thought I was faking it.
This coupled with what could arguably be described as a relaxed attitude to everything (both work and the fun stuff too) meant that I’ve spent many year doing the ‘struggling to get out of bed’ because I’ve not seen the point in doing anything weather it’s been going down stairs to eat, tidy or pretty much anything else on bad days. To add into the mix I’ve had the headaches and the sinus problems and the glands that are up for months on end, the backache and all the fun stuff that goes with it. My friends (those who know me well enough to be brutally honest without the worry of upsetting me) tell me they know when my depression is bad because I drive like a nutter and drop things a lot (their kind and and polite way of telling me I’ve lost my spacial awareness.) At these times even I notice I have the mental retention of a goldfish, and can be hard work.
Over the last months as everything has been worse, I’d started noticing a hum, nothing serious just in that ‘can you hear that or is it me?’ kind or way and flashy lights in my eyes when I was tired.
I went back to the doctor for what must easily be the 5th set of blood tests in the last 6 months, but this time I got a different answer from the normal all clear.
This time I got a set of questions…
fatigue (extreme tiredness) – yes, you told me it was ME
lethargy (lack of energy) – yes, you told me it was ME
breathlessness (dyspnoea) – yes, you told me it was asthma
faintness – yes, you told me to drink more water and put on my records I was faking it
headache- yes, you gave me drugs for this
tinnitus (the perception of a noise in one or both ears, or inside your head, which comes from inside your body; for example, a ringing in your ears) – yes, you said it was my sinuses and sent me to see someone
loss of appetite- yes, you told me not to worry as I was putting on weight (even thought this might have been a side effect of the antidepressant)
a yellow tinge to your skin- not that I’ve noticed
a sore and red tongue (glossitis) – no!!!!
ulcers inside your mouth- yes, you gave me antibiotics over and over again (and they pop and are gross)
pins and needles- yes, you told me not to worry
a reduced ability to feel pain – well I don’t know, I walk into things a lot, it doesn’t hurt but I get massive bruises so I guess so… Unless bruising is coming up
a change in the way that you walk and move around – no idea
disturbed vision- yes, they would be the weird flashy lights
irritability- yes, apologies to everyone who has known me
loss of spacial awareness- yes, including dropping things and walking into things and eyeing up parking spaces that are way too small
muscle weakness- yes, that’s why I have such problems with my back and my ankles barely go a week without twisting, and my muscles get really twitchy and feel like I’ve walked miles, not just from the car (which just for the record you put on my records as me faking)
depression – yes, you have been giving me drugs for the last 25 years
psychosis – a condition that affects your mind and changes the way you think, feel and behave (not sure – may need further clarity)
dementia – a decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement – yes, if goldfish brain counts!
‘Well’ he said, ‘that’s very interesting’ he said. ‘Your blood test has come back low in folic acid and vitamin B12, and those are the symptoms.” There was a long pause…. ‘Well, the good news’ he said ‘is that it may respond to treatment, so today could be the start of the rest of your life.’ And I know he meant it in a nice kind way, but quite frankly at the moment, sitting here with: my back in spasm; pins and needles in both arms and legs; the crazy flashy lights in my eyes and depressed as hell it doesn’t feel like a new and exciting fresh start, it makes me wonder what I could have done with my life, what I could have achieved, what I have wasted. It makes me think what if the any one of the overdoses had worked, what a waste and a farce it has all been. What would it have been like if they had correctly diagnosed me when I was 12, who would I have become?? And now I have four to six months to wait to see if I respond to the medication, if I could have the normal life other people have – or have I screwed things up too badly because I have been ill so long that even if/when chemically I’m normal it’s too late to try and aspire to a normality I have never known.
But on the upside… Today was also the day I was told that cheese and marmite and peanut butter (nothing else on the plate) count as a healthy meal!!!!